Three years in the making, the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Mountain skilfully interweaves Richard Tognetti’s original music with classical favourites as a soundtrack to jaw-dropping footage of climbers, skiers and parachutists, curated by Jennifer Peedom. It’s a well-balanced and adventurous musical feast. Sculthorpe’s Djilile is nicely paired with Pärt’s Fratres and Für Alina; a Chopin Nocturne sits happily alongside an excerpt of Grieg’s Holberg Suite; high-octane Vivaldi accompanies some of the film’s most spectacular footage while Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and the Adagio from the Emperor Concerto convey transcendental alpine splendour.
Tognetti shows versatility in his pieces, ranging from the purely orchestral Bartók-inspired Majesty and terrifying Sublime sections to a couple of songs featuring vocals by violinist Satu Vänskä. Flying sounds like a Scandy-noir opening title, while Vänskä gets aggressive in Madness Bites, co-written by Joseph Nizeti, with crashing drums and synthesisers illustrating the arrogance of some extreme athletes.
The album is a delight if you don’t mind your music in bite-size chunks. Vivaldi’s Winter from the Four Seasons with its scratchy bowing really bites to the bone, while Summer bursts with joy and life. Tamara-Anna Cislowska’s piano solos are also impeccable – ravishing in the Chopin and Beethoven and crystalline in Pärt’s bell-like Für Alina.